Top-seeded Laguna-Acoma Hawks advance to 2A championship game

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

RIO RANCHO, N.M., March 15, 2013

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S In the midst of all this hoopla, the Laguna-Acoma boys' basketball team will be making a Pit stop.

Of course that 'Pit stop' refers to the world famous Pit at the University of New Mexico campus in Albuquerque.

After playing two straight games at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, N.M. earlier this week, the top-seeded Hawks earned the right to play in Saturday's Class 2A championship game after taking down the Texico Wolverines with a 67-60 win last night, March 14.

Last year Texico ended the Hawks' season with a one-point win during the 2A quarterfinals.

The 28-2 Hawks avenged that loss by forcing the tempo late with their defense in the second quarter as they extended a 20-16 lead into a 35-24 cushion at the break.

Anthony Carpio started that rally with a steal as the senior point guard finished the game with 19 points and three assist.

Austin Jones, who helped with 15 points and eight rebounds, added two big buckets during that run. The Hawks also had Augusts Cuch finish with 12 points.

"We knew we had to play hard and play strong," said Jones. "Coming into this game we were really pumped and focused. We did what we wanted to do and what we knew we could do."

In the second half, the Hawks picked up where they left off as they forced Texico into taking bad shots. The Wolverines missed 14 of 19 baskets to start the second half as LA opened up a 61-45 lead with 4:21 left in the game on two free throws from Carpio.

To their credit, the Wolverines made one final push and made the game a little respectable to close within seven points.

And while their mindset was to "even the score", LA head coach Ryan Peil said he had some concerns, especially junior forward Miguel Reyna, who led the Wolverines with 18 points and eight rebounds.

"Any team making the Final Four is a good team," Piel said. "They got a great player in Reyna and obviously all their supporting players a real good…so we have the utmost respect for them.

"That's why we worked so hard to get back and beat them," he added.

LA will play Dexter at 8 a.m. Saturday for the championship.

In other action, the Shiprock Lady Chieftains and the Santa Fe Indian School Lady Braves had their season cut short in the Class 3A bracket on Thursday.

Shiprock dropped a 65-55 decision to top-seeded Hope Christian while defending 3A champs Lovington upended SFIS by a 38-33 count.

Ashley John and Courtney Steele led the Lady Chieftains, who finished the year with 24-4 overall record. John finished the game with 16 points, while Steele had 10.

The Lady Braves had six players score with Bridget Lee finishing the game with nine points and six rebounds.

Look for next week's Navajo Times for a more in-depth coverage of the teams.

Corrections officials plan to move into new judicial complexes come April

By Bill Donovan
Special to the Times

WINDOW ROCK  — Navajo Nation correction officials are making plans to start moving into the two new jail and court facilities in Tuba City and Crownpoint.

The move is scheduled for early April.

Delores Greyeyes, director of corrections for the Navajo Nation, said her office is now supervising workers at both sites to put the finishing touches on the jails such as putting in the phones and correcting minor problems.

In Tuba City, for example, one of the court doors opened in the wrong direction and has to be corrected.

Training of new personnel is still continuing and should be ready when the jail facilities are ready - about mid-April - to actually start taking in prisoners.

"My staff is happy and looking forward to moving in," said Greyeyes.

Because the facilities are so big - 132 beds in Tuba City and 48 in Crownpoint – the facilities will be opening up in phases.

FEMA, Shelly sign agreement to receive federal emergency dollars

By Noel Lyn Smith
Navajo Times

TSÉ BONITO, N.M. – The Navajo Nation's road to covering the cost of repairing water lines that were frozen or damaged from the winter freeze earlier in the year took another step as the tribe signed an agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to receive federal emergency funds.

Under FEMA's Public Assistance Program, the tribe qualified for assistance for the emergency work that was completed and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe freeze.

The tribe is also eligible to apply for assistance under FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program that provides assistance for actions taken to prevent or reduce the loss of life and property due to natural disasters.

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly and FEMA Region 9 Administrator Nancy Ward signed the formal agreement during a ceremony March 14 at the Navajo Division of Transportation complex here.

"Today the Navajo Nation is taking a big, giant step to establish an identity as a sovereign government," Shelly said.

The Navajo Nation is the second tribe to receive a major disaster declaration and approval for federal emergency aid since President Barack Obama signed the amendment to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act in January.

Under the change in the law, federally recognized tribes can apply directly to the President of the United States for disaster declarations and emergency aid.

Before the amendment was enacted, tribes had to apply to state governments then have the request submitted by the state to the president on the tribe's behalf.

"This is a historic occasion," Ward said then added that by signing the document, it continues developing the relationship between tribes and the federal government.

No monetary amount has been designated but FEMA representatives will continue to assess the cost associated with restoring and repairing water service.

"They will be here as long as it takes," Ward said.

The tribe is expected to share 25 percent of the cost of emergency while FEMA can reimburse up to 75 percent of cost associated with the emergency, including permanent repairs and overtime wages for emergency response workers.

The reimbursement would be used to repay the $2.8 million loan the Navajo Nation Council's Budget and Finance Committee approved with Key Bank in February.

The committee has the authority to approve a loan for up to $15 million and does not require a waiver of sovereign immunity under the Bond Financing Act.

The loan was approved as a way to repay Navajo Tribal Utility Authority for the costs of repairs and system replacements it paid for from its own funds and to pay the cost for operating the tribe's emergency command center.

Shelly signed the loan agreement March 7 in Albuquerque.

NM drunken driver sues buddy, restaurants

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A repeat drunken driver convicted in a crash that killed two teenagers has sued his drinking buddy and two Santa Fe restaurants that served him alcohol.

James Ruiz, 37, filed a lawsuit Wednesday in New Mexico District Court and is seeking monetary damages from the friend he was out drinking with as well as Applebee's and the Blue Corn Cafe, the Albuquerque Journal reported Friday.

The lawsuit, filed by Ruiz without a lawyer, claims the restaurants and his friend caused Ruiz emotional distress due to the loss of liberty and enjoyment of life after he was served drinks in 2010.

Ruiz said in his suit that he was convicted and incarcerated due to the chain of events the defendants set in motion. Police said Ruiz rammed his truck into a car and killed two teenagers - Del Lynn Peshlakai, 19, and her sister Deshauna, 17 - from the Navajo reservation.

He's serving a 40-year prison sentence after entering a guilty plea in 2011.

Santa Fe Dining, a restaurant group that includes Blue Corn Cafe, declined to comment. Applebee's did not immediately return two phone messages and an email from The Associated Press.

Ruiz was out on bond on his fifth DWI arrest when the fatal crash took place, authorities said.

Police said he had a blood-alcohol concentration at the time of 0.22 percent, nearly three times the legal limit for driving.

The Peshlakai family has filed a wrongful death suit against Ruiz, the restaurants and others in the case. That suit is pending in state district court.

The Peshlakai sisters and their parents were in town for a high school basketball tournament when the fatal wreck took place. The parents were injured in the crash.

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